In November, the Department of Veterans Affairs released the 2020 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, which found no significant increases in the veteran suicide rate from 2017 to 2018, average suicide deaths per day or total count of veteran suicides. However, from 2017 to 2018, the average number of veteran suicides per day rose slightly from 17.5 to 17.6.
The total number of veteran suicide deaths increased 0.6%—from 6,399 in 2017 to 6,435 in 2018.
While the average daily number of veteran suicides did rise, there were positive trends related to VA health care and suicide prevention efforts overall.
The report includes analyses of veteran suicide from 2005 to 2018 and findings from ongoing monitoring of VA health system suicide-related indicators during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The suicide data presented in this new report is an integral part of VA’s Public Health Model for Suicide Prevention, which combines evidence-based clinical interventions and proactive community-based prevention strategies to address suicide in our nation,” said one VA official. “The data shows the rate of suicide among veterans who recently used VA health services has decreased, an encouraging sign as the department continues its work and shares what we learn with those who care for and about veterans.”
Key report findings include:
- The average number of veteran suicides per day was 17.6 in 2018.
- The rate of suicide among veterans who received recent VA care decreased 2.4%.
- No indication of COVID-19 pandemic-era increases in VA health system-reported veteran suicides, attempts or volume of emergency department visits related to suicide attempts.
According to the VA, suicide data and monitoring presented in the 2020 report are critical elements of the department’s ongoing implementation of the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24/7, year-round. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, or text 838255.